Literature Study GuidesThe Name Of The RoseThird Day Vespers Night Summary

The Name of the Rose | Study Guide

Umberto Eco

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The Name of the Rose | Third Day, Vespers–Night | Summary

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Summary

Third Day, Vespers

William of Baskerville is concerned when Abo tells him that Bernard Gui, an inquisitor, will be attending the upcoming meeting. Gui was "the scourge of heretics" in France, so it may be assumed he will not be unbiased during the conference. The abbot is now even more insistent that William quickly solve the murders at the abbey. When William asks for permission to freely investigate the library, the abbot refuses, saying, "I see no connection between the crimes and the library." When William reminds him that all the dead or missing worked in the library, the abbot simply walks away.

As William and Adso of Melk walk through the abbey, William comes up with an idea to help them navigate the labyrinth. He describes to Adso how using a homemade compass might help orient them inside the labyrinth. But carrying such a device might be impractical. Instead, William and Adso create a detailed map of the labyrinth based on mathematics, which the builders of the Aedificium most certainly used during its construction. After careful observation from the exterior and detailed calculations of what they know is inside, William and Adso feel fairly confident they will know how to navigate the 56 rooms in the labyrinthine library. They've even determined that it's the initial letter on the cryptic phrases over the room arches that will yield a secret word or phrase that might be the key to the library's secrets.

Third Day, After Compline

Adso talks with Ubertino about the heretic Fra Dolcino. Fra Dolcino preached that free love and stealing were both acceptable. He announced that he "was the only true apostle of God" and then urged his followers to revolt against the Church and property owners. Ubertino thinks it was through the woman Margaret that Dolcino became truly heretical because "through woman ... the Devil penetrates men's hearts." After Dolcino preached that "all the clergy, monks, and friars had to die a very cruel death," the pope organized an army to attack and destroy Dolcino and his order. Eventually, Dolcino and Margaret were captured and burned at the stake.

Adso feels strangely restless and goes to the library alone. In the scriptorium he finds a book on the history of heresies, including those of Fra Dolcino and his capture and execution. Adso recalls when, in Florence, he saw the trial and burning of a man, Brother Michael, accused of heresy because he taught that Christians should live in Christlike poverty. Inquisitors couldn't get Michael to confess to heresy, so he was burned at the stake. Adso wonders if Michael was a pious Christian martyr and not a heretic. Perhaps the pope who ordered his execution for preaching poverty was the real heretic. As Adso watched the execution, many in the crowd argued that Brother Michael was a saint, while others believed he was a heretic. At his death, Brother Michael announced he wanted to die for Christ. Adso thinks Michael died in "ecstatic rapture," but he wonders if Dolcino and Margaret died in rapture as well.

Adso is again restless and unfocused when he enters the library. He glances at a few books and wonders at the strangeness of their illustrations. In one book he sees an image of the whore of Babylon. He feels intense "inner agitation" and thinks he's damned. In his agitation, Adso becomes thirsty and so descends to the kitchen, where he sees a large shadowy form hurrying away. Then he hears a soft woman's voice and "subdued weeping, rhythmic sobs of fear." He approaches and sees a beautiful, though clearly impoverished, young girl. As they draw closer, she seems attracted to him, and she undoes her tattered dress. Before he knows what's happening, Adso is naked, having sex with the girl. His description of the experience is filled with light, ecstasy, flames, and death. After the encounter, Adso thinks about the relationship between the flame of sexual desire and the flames of the stake and how consuming both are. He falls asleep on the kitchen floor. He wakes for a few moments and is overcome with the awfulness of his sin. He sees a bloody heart in the sack the girl had left behind, and faints.

Third Day, Night

William finds Adso on the kitchen floor and revives him. He tells Adso the sack contains the large heart of an ox or cow, not that of a human. Adso feels intense guilt for his sin, and he confesses to his mentor. William absolves Adso but explains that since God created women they cannot be wholly evil or foul. He warns Adso against committing the sin again, but says what happened is understandable.

William and Adso leave the kitchen and go into the church where they find Alinardo praying. Alinardo insists the murders in the abbey follow the text of the Book of Revelation and the sounding of each trumpet it describes. He's certain the next murder is related to the third trumpet, describing rivers and water. William and Adso don't take Alinardo too seriously, and they leave. They cannot think how Berengar might have been killed in a river, as there is no river near the abbey. Adso, thinking aloud, wonders if the abbey baths might be a reasonable stand-in for a river. The two men hurry to the balneary and search each bathtub. In the last tub they find the body of Berengar.

Analysis

William's concern over the impending arrival of Bernard Gui introduce the primary focus of these sections: interpreting and distinguishing differences between signs. In a way, William and Gui have something in common. William stopped being an inquisitor because he could no longer distinguish between the pious and the heretical. The abbot admires Gui because he's able to impose his own preconceived notions on the accused and decide whether or not they are guilty. Neither William nor Gui can distinguish the differences, but their confusion impels each toward a very different perspective regarding heresy.

William uses his knowledge of science and mathematics to unravel the mysteries of the labyrinth and make the seeming disorder of the many rooms navigable. No doubt the mathematicians who designed the labyrinth thought it impenetrable to monks for whom knowledge of science is considered heresy. But they had not taken a monk like William into account, a man who uses logic, math, and science to crack the code of the labyrinth. Scientific instruments alter William's perspective on the Aedificium. William uses a compass and mathematics to crack the code from outside the Aedificium, an example of exterior perspective yielding an understanding of interior space.

Adso has no trouble understanding the heresy of Fra Dolcino, but he has great difficulty discerning whether or not Brother Michael is a heretic or a pious Christian. Adso cannot find an interpretation of the words or signs that would permit him to distinguish a heretic from a supposed saint.

Flames as signs are also a source of confusion for Adso. The flames that burn the bodies of heretics produce excruciating pain. Yet, for both Michael and Dolcino, flames ignited each man's unwavering conviction and faith. Adso is also confused by the difficulty distinguishing the flame of sexual desire from the burning spiritual love of God.

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